Car bomb kills 18 boys near Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP and Reuters

A car bomb exploded near a park west of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 18 boys, police said.

The blast occurred in central Ramadi, a hotbed of the Sunni insurgency, near an area popular for soccer. The victims were boys aged 10 to 15, police said in the city, about 115 kilometers west of Baghdad.

The bomb-rigged car blew apart at about 4:15 p.m. (1315 GMT) while the boys were playing, police said.It was not immediately known if the children were the intended targets, but young people are often caught in Iraq’s daily bloodshed.

Also Tuesday, officials said regional states including Iran and Syria will join U.S. and British envoys at a meeting in Baghdad next month to seek ways to stabilize Iraq. The mid-March meeting would be a chance for Western and regional powers to try to bridge some of their differences over Iraq, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said.